16 August 2012

Young Man You've Got Industrial Disease [UDPATE]

While Mr. Market bumps along a flatline of local maxima (Dow/13,000 and NASDAQ/3,000), SSD and social shares aren't all doing so well. OCZ and STEC took a stiletto in the neck. Fusion-io hit a home run. Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon self-immolated. What does it all mean, Mr. Natural?

In the cases of OCZ and STEC, two different problems. Since there are essentially two market segments for SSD, and these two companies represent the primary public face of each, may be the Yellow Brick Road to 5NF RDBMS just got carpet bombed. Therein lies a tale.

OCZ is attempting to saturate the market with its consumer focused SSD in the hopes, one infers, that all the other players will be driven out in despair, and then OCZ can dictate prices and finally make a few kopeks selling their parts. Hasn't happened yet, and there are too many integrated companies who can much better survive a war of attrition. Samsung and Intel come to mind. STEC is caught up in being kicked to the curb by EMC (at least, perhaps others too; I well remember the CEO crowing a couple of years ago that he wasn't concerned about market, since he had signed up the 6 OEMs he wanted -- hmm, I now wonder how tasty that crow is today) and a CEO cancer on the body corporate. Fusion-io, on the other hand, exploded like a bottle of Pabst in a vat of liquid nitrogen. This was more or less predictable.

The implications, so far, are that PCIe form factor is doing well in the enterprise. While there are chassis which morph PCIe storage into the appearance of shared storage, this approach bends the points of each. To the extent that distributed servers with local storage become significant, database designers embracing SSD have to promote the diminished footprint advantage of high normal form. All you need can fit in that one box.

EMC acquired XtremIO recently. This is not the first attempt to chassis up PCIe cards. Their recent quarterly didn't mention numbers specific to SSD/flash systems' sales but did say: "The value of Flash is resonating with our customers, and in Q2, we shipped a record amount of Flash capacity." So, along with the Sun/Oracle flash appliance, are we headed toward a fragmented server world? For Google-like environments, perhaps. For transaction oriented applications, the sorts that interest Humble Self, it doesn't matter. "Eventual consistency" is an oxymoron whenever data matters. You can have distributed/federated databases which manage ACID, or you can have dispersed files and a TPM of your own construction; either way ACID happens. Given that relational database engines have been in development for neigh onto 40 years by folks who know how to do that, building your own is folly. But, if you want to pay a horde of coders, that's a billable hours sink that would be difficult to beat.

This just in: IBM has scarfed up Texas Memory. Since TMS is private, retail plungers don't get any benefit. OTOH, that IBM would take TMS, a most serious (in all senses of the word) player rather than one of the usual suspects, is very much a Good Thing. If SSD didn't look meaningful before, boy howdy, it does now.

The other S-word, social stuff, is spiraling in a coriolis sort of way. And this matters because? To the extent that 1) these corporations represent a beachhead for adoption of SSD (and, one notes, not the application for which SSD are best suited, alas) and 2) dey be screwin da pooch; then the legitimacy, and marketability, of enterprise SSD comes under pressure. While I have no personal use or interest in any of them, for SSD to become the SOP for storage, they do need to succeed.

The Social Disease, once again, belies the assumption that the cheap way to get rich is to connive a program on your $1,000 laptop. The literature is littered with studies which have concluded that part of the demise of American industry is the get rich quick pipe dream of software. Too many otherwise smart folks, who could build real physical stuff, have listened to the siren's song and gone off to a flier at getting rich quick. The Great Recession was one result of this emigration; in that case financial "services". But that's a discussion for a different venue. You can find it if you want to.


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Robert Young said...

To paraphrase Bartles (or was it James?), we thank you for your support. I will continue to battle silliness, girded with my titanium Codd piece.